Information about plants & gardens for Brisbane & Qld


Welcome to Queensland's gateway to gardening - a collection of news, information, resources and ideas of interest to gardeners, especially residents of Queensland, Australia.

Get Results Gardening 08-09-2023
TOP PLANT: Gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri)
WILDLIFE: Green Spaces Bring Insect Abundance
ON TREND: More City Greening
BASICS: Dry Deciduous Trees

Get Results Gardening is a weekly mini-magazine delivered via email. It offers high-quality gardening information for SE Qld while keeping the inexperienced and even the reluctant gardener in mind. Easy plants, timely tips, ideas, motivation. Get a FREE 3-month trial subscription.

Garden Events 2024

Organising a garden show, open garden, plant workshop or similar event in Qld? It's not too late to send in 2023 dates, but if you already have dates locked in for 2024, you can also submit them for inclusion in the Queensland Gardening Events Diary now. You can send in additional details (key attractions, opening times, etc) closer to the event if you wish, but adding your date ASAP will give you more exposure to potential visitors and stallholders. Basic text listings (which can include a website link) are free. Featured listings are also available for a modest fee. Go to the Queensland Gardening Events Diary for more information or to just to see what's listed for the weeks ahead.

The Garden Scene

News about plants and gardens in Queensland, plus other useful and interesting horticultural news from around the world. Most of these items are edited versions of news that was covered in past editions of Get Results Gardening.

Is Your Gold Coast Street Neat?

The City of Gold Coast's My Neat Street initiative is allowing residents to nominate streets of "exceptional upkeep". Great streets will be recognised on the 2022 My Neat Street Honour Roll to be announced in December. Nominators who submit an eligible nomination will go into a prize draw. "If your street goes that extra mile when it comes to garden maintenance, clearing your gutters or any other neat work that should be recognised, we want to hear from you," said Councillor Hermann Vorster. "It’s also your chance to engage with your neighbours, report any concerns to the City or relevant authority and build a connected community." Nominations close 30th September, 2022. There's more information at the City of Gold Coast website: My Neat Street. (July 2022)

Macadamia Frozen in Time

All four native species of Macadamia are now threatened in what remains of their Australia rainforest habitats. Conserving them isn't just important for environmental reasons - plants from the wild could hold useful genes for the improvement of commercial nut crops in the future. Unfortunately, its difficult to preserve this genetic resource using conventional long-term storage methods. "These seeds have a very high content of lipids (oils) which can produce problematic crystals when you’re trying to freeze them. The seeds are also quite big, so it’s possible they’re just not freezing or thawing fast enough to avoid damage from those crystallised lipids," says Karen Sommerville from the Australian Institute of Botanical Science. The Institute and the University of Queensland are now working together to develop new methods to preserve these important species. One possibility is removal of the tiny embryo from the seed and storing it in liquid nitrogen. They will also try cryopreserving shoot tips grown in tissue culture. Source: Macadamia conservation a tough nut to crack (July 2022)

UQ a Part of RNA Revolution

Akin to vaccines for plants, RNA treatments have the potential to fight many different pests and diseases. A hurdle is delivery to appropriate sites within plant tissues. However, the University of Queensland has been developing a carrier technology they call BioClay™, which could help unlock the potential of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to provide safe and efficient plant protection. Whitefly is very troublesome because it not only sucks the sap of plants, but can also transmit viruses. What's more, it's difficult to control. However, the effectiveness of an RNA/BioClay spray against silverleaf whitefly has now been demonstrated, which UQ is hailing as a breakthrough. The whiteflies ingest the dsRNA, which attacks vital genes in the insects. By targeting genes specific to silverleaf whitefly, beneficial insects are not harmed. The next step towards making this a commercial product will be on-farm testing with industry partner Nufarm. Source: UQ research to revolutionise pest control around the world (May 2022)

That's Cool, Eudlo

Following extensive community consultation, the Sunshine Coast hinterland town of Eudlo has been given a green boost with a makeover of the town's main thoroughfare. As well as an upgraded pedestrian crossing, Rosebud Street now has three new garden beds containing large shade trees and over 700 shrubs and groundcovers. Solar-powered lights are on the way. Source: Fresh and shady upgrade for Eudlo's main street, Sunshine Coast Regional Council (April 2022)

Saving Energy Needs People Power

A 30% decline in residential trees over the past decade is making Australian suburbs hotter, according to researchers at the University of South Australia. "Local government focuses on public parks and urban forests but it’s the residential trees that make a significant difference to home energy costs," says architect Mina Rouhollahi. "Also, private land tree planting provides a better environment for children, improving urban aesthetics and increasing home values." The UniSA team have recently developed a strategy to help planners and developers. However, a shift in attitudes by residents themselves will also be required. Source: Neighbourhoods feeling the heat as medium density housing robs suburbs of street and garden trees (March, 2022)

Maybe Houseplants Can Help After All

Following a NASA study in the late 1980s, plants have been widely touted as means of reducing indoor air pollution even though subsequent research did not support this conclusion. Realistically, a few plants were considered unlikely to make an appreciable difference in a normal home or office. However, those studies focussed on volatile organic compounds (VOCs). New research out the UK has indicated that potted plants could reduce levels of a different pollutant - nitrogen dioxide (NO2). This gas results from burning wood or fossil fuels. Indoor levels can be raised by heavy traffic outside. As yet, the mechanism on NO2 absorption is unknown, but could involve the soil. Three quite different species of plants were tested, but were similarly effective. Interestingly, microbes in the potting mix rather than the plants were thought to be largely responsible for VOC reduction in the NASA study, too. Source: Common houseplants can improve air quality indoors (March, 2022)

Bats Getting the Message

Sprinklers are being installed In Sunshine Coast trees - not for irrigation, but to deter flying foxes. Porter Park at Golden Beach is the latest neighbourhood to benefit from this management approach after proving successful in several other locations. Emitters are located in treetops on edges of the park with houses nearby. The noise and motion created by the water alarms the animals, making the centre of the park a more attractive option for them. The sprinklers are timed to come on at intervals thorough the day, but residents will be able to trigger the system, too. Source: Sprinklers provide a different type of relief for Golden Beach residents (February 2022)

Orchid House Welcomes More Visitors

Expansion of the The Orchid House at the Hervey Bay Botanic Gardens has been proclaimed a great success, with visitor numbers growing to over 15,000 people in 2021. The facility was doubled in size in 2019 and additional improvements made in 2021. Source: Visitor numbers on the rise at the Orchid House (February 2022)

Courting Coolness

A study conducted in Potsdam, Germany, compared four comparable urban spaces surrounded by five-story apartments. They found that even small differences in the amount of greenery produced benefits for residents, particularly summer cooling. The presence of trees and shrubs reduced temperatures up to 11°C in these courtyards. The maximum value recorded in the least-vegetated courtyard during the study was 45°C, demonstrating that even in northern Europe, humans can be at risk of heat stress. If such events become more frequent, the need for sustainable mitigation measures becomes even more important. Source: Green backyards help increase urban climate resilience: Here is how (January 2022)

Hard Graft Now Possible

Grafting is a well established horicultural practice with many potential benefits (see Get Results Gardening 11 & 18 June). However, successful connection relies on aligning the cambium tissue, the sub-surface layer in which cell division occurs. Among flowering plants, this requirement has has limited grafting to the group known as the dicotyledons. The monocotyledons, on the other hand, have a quite different internal stem structure and it was believed they could never be grafted. However, a new technique has been invented that makes it possible using embryonic tissue. The researchers have had success with a quite diverse range of monocots including pineapple, banana, onion, tequila agave and date palm. Down the track, it may become practical to utilise grafting to introduce disease resistance or dwarfing into such important economic crops, and maybe even some ornamentals. Besides palms, a huge number of our garden plants are monocots - orchids, flowering bulbs, grasses, gingers, cordylines and philodendrons, to name a few. Source: New grafting technique could combat the disease threatening Cavendish bananas (December 2021)

Roots and Shade

When plants aren't getting enough light, growth is reduced and elongated stems "stretch" towards the light source. We don't usually think about what's happening below ground, but new research has shown that excessive shade has an effect there, too. Roots of both tomato and Arabidopsis were found to be shorter and less developed when light was reduced. This appears to be a specific response associated with the activation of stress genes and possibly involving ethylene (the fruit-ripening gas). It enables the plants to direct more of their limited resources to growth of the light-harvesting parts. In the garden, shaded areas (under eaves, around trees) are often much drier than elsewhere. The inhibition of root growth due to shade could be making it even more difficult for plants to cope than simple observation of the soil would suggest. Home gardeners might also consider how spacing their vegetables too closely might stunt the roots due to mutual shading, even if soil conditions are very good. In this study, the researchers were primarily interested in how crop plants respond to overcrowding, with a view to engineering varieties that can be efficiently produced at higher densities. Source: Why roots don’t grow in the shade (October 2021)

New Garden a Feast for Seniors' Senses

A garden especially designed for seniors has opened at Cascade Gardens in Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Besides wheelchair-accessible garden beds, there are art objects and a giant xylophone to engage all the senses. The project was jointly funded by the City and State Governments. Dementia Australia’s Men’s Shed created several items for the garden. Source: Sensory gardens show love for our city seniors (October 2021)

Nature Helped Kids Cope

A survey of UK families indicates that children who had increased exposure to nature during the first COVID-19 lockdown exhibited fewer behavioural or emotional problems compared to those to had the same or less exposure. Their socio-economic status did not make a difference, except that children from more affluent families tended to have more access to nature during that time. That could be gardening, playing in the garden or other outdoor activities. The findings are in line with other studies linking nature and better wellbeing. These researchers suggest that supporting the connection at home and at school could be a low-cost way of improving child mental health, in or out of lockdown. Source: Lockdown wellbeing: children who spent more time in nature fared best (October 2021)

Tiny Plastic Particles a Big Worry

An Australian study has shown how plastic in the garden - whether through careless disposal of waste or deliberate use - can impact soil health and the wider environment. Soil samples were collected in the vicinity of two plastic items in an ordinary South Australian garden. One was a piece of discarded polyethylene bubble wrap. The other was polypropylene weed control fabric. Both had been in contact with the soil for seven years. Analysis showed that degradation over that time had released plastic particles into the soil. These ranged in size from visible fragments to microplastic particles a fraction of a millimetre in diameter. Although the techniques in this study were not suitable for detection of ultra-small nanoplastics, the results suggest that these would also be present. Source: Reducing plastic in gardens (October 2021)

Grass Pollen Booming in Brisbane

Grass pollen is a major cause of hay fever and allergies. The QUT Allergy Research Group has looked at airborne levels recorded at the Air Quality Monitoring Station in Rocklea, Brisbane over 1994-1999 and compared them with data from 2016-2020. In both periods, the main pollen season starts between mid-October and mid-December. However, the concentration of grass pollen in the air now gets almost three times higher, with more high-risk days. Concurrent meteorological data and satellite imagery were also analysed. Source: Allergy-causing pollen levels much higher in 2010s than 1990s (September, 2021)

Delicious Dough

Researchers might just have discovered the cheapest, safest and most effective lure for slugs and snails yet. Observation of six species across three American states showed that bread dough - simply made with flour, water and yeast - was more attractive to the pests than a commercial bait or other food lures tested, including beer. Another benefit is that the dough can keep working for days. The exact reason for bread dough's allure to slugs and snails is not known, but is probably something to do with the fermentation process. Source: Slugs and snails, destructors of crops and gardens, could be controlled by bread dough (August 2021)

Happy 100th

Planting a tree in a public park to recognise residents who reach 100 years has become a popular practice throughout the Fraser Coast region since it was introduced by the former Maryborough City Council. It seems there's something of a centenarian boom underway, which may be something to do with the baby boom following World War One. Given the level of interest in marking these birthdays with public tree planting, Fraser Coast Regional Council is considering a formal application process and eligibility criteria. Source: Have your say on Council's plan to plant trees to celebrate centenarians, Fraser Coast Regional Council (August 2021)

Wonderful Woodlands

Among the studies revealing the positive effects that a vegetated environment has on mental health is a new one involving adolescents in London. It focussed on the 9-15 age range, which is thought to be a key period for development of reasoning and understanding. The researchers found exposure to woodland (not grassland) was associated with higher cognitive development scores and a lower risk of behavioural and emotional problems. Other green space has a smaller benefit but no effect was observed from proximity to blue space (rivers, lakes, sea). Sources: Living near woodlands is good for children and young people's mental health (July 2021)

Respect Our Wrack

Removing beach-cast seaweed (sea wrack) to manufacture garden products or make the beaches appealing to tourists could impact sea bird populations. In "the first study of its kind," ecologists at the University of South Australia found that fresh and aged wrack of various depths had different temperature profiles, allowing shore birds to be able to take advantage of the warmest spots available at various times of the day to conserve energy. Source: Conserving coastal seaweed: a must have for migrating sea birds (June 2021)

Nambour Network Grows

With completion expected in September, a new 1.7 hectare park connected to Quota Memorial Park will soon add to the green network running through Nambour. The new area in Howard street is part of Sunshine Coast Council's Petrie Creek Parklands Open Space Master Plan. It will incorporate walking paths, picnic areas and, in response to community demand, an off-leash area for dogs. Council has collaborated with Kabi Kabi First Nations representatives on the park's design and with the Petrie Creek Catchment Group concerning vegetation. Source: New park to increase green space in Nambour (June 2021)

Blending Still Trending

U.S. renovation website surveyed experts in the field of home and landscape construction to get a handle on the most popular outdoor living improvements among American homeowners. After the pandemic experience, interest in outdoor living was stronger than ever. The experts think these spaces will only be getting bigger in the future, with clients willing to invest money that they haven't been able to spend on travel. As far as features go, it seems the things that clients are requesting is in line with trends over the last few years - indoor/outdoor blending with sliding or folding doors, accessories to extend use of outdoor spaces throughout the seasons (shade for summer, heaters and firepits for winter) and outdoor kitchens. There was a preference for ground-level patios over decks. Accessibility to the rest of the yard was cited as one of the advantages of patios. Source: 2021 Trends for Outdoor Living Spaces (May 2021)

Gardens' Map in an App

Tamborine Mountain Regional Botanic Gardens in the Scenic Rim has released a smartphone app to enhance the visitor experience. It offers a guide to the layout and features of the Gardens, historical info and an "I Spy" activity. There is also relaxing music for visitors to use in conjunction with the contemplative sites. More information: (May 2021)

Brisbane Parks An Escape For Some

A survey of 1000 residents has indicated that many increased their use of public parks and reserves in Brisbane during the big COVID lockdown last year, including people who had not used them before. On the other hand, some previous visitors avoided the the parks during this period, resulting in only a slight increase in activity overall. Source: COVID-19 kept our parks busy, but not everyone ventured outside (May 2021)

Fifty Plants In Peril

Australia has many plants that are close to extinction. As part of a initiative led by scientists from Queensland University, the Threatened Species Recovery Hub has identified the nation's 50 species most at risk and developed an Action Plan for Australia's Imperilled Plants. The total amount and fragmentation of habitat are the biggest threats across the board, but there are other factors like weeds, feral animals, fire management and lack of pollinators at play. Smooth scrub turpentine (Rhodamnia maideniana) has been recorded in rainforest in SE Qld and NNSW but declined greatly since the introduction of myrtle rust (healthy and infected plants pictured above). The disease doesn't simply reduce vigour, it can infect flowering shoots and fruits directly which affects the ability of plants to set any seed at all. Coochin Hills grevillea (Grevillea hodgei) has been reduced to a few small groups near Beerwah in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The integrity of this species is threatened by hybridisation with rogue Grevillea banksii that has escaped from garden cultivation. The illustrated action plan has information about the range, ecology and the known threats each of the 50 species faces. You can download it here: (May 2021)

Get Your Daily Dose

It's well established that gardening is associated with mental health. A study out of the UK has looked at the "dose" you might need. The researchers found gardening 2-3 times per week was effective, but daily was even better at lowering stress and improving wellbeing. Source: Daily gardening is as good for mental wellbeing as regular vigorous exercise (April 2021)

Does Darkness Cause the Green Space Effect?

A lot of research has shown that green space in urban environments improves human health in various ways. The authors suggest that this be addressed in future research, to determine whether the best outcomes can be obtained from more green space, less light exposure at night, or both. Source: Green space or light at night - how do we improve health? (March 2021)

A Boardwalk for Bli Bli

A new elevated boardwalk through the Maroochy River wetlands will allow visitors to explore aspects of the region's natural and cultural heritage. Descendants of the Australian South Sea Islanders Inc (DASSI) has worked with Sunshine Coast Council on the project and hope to develop educational signage to increase awareness of the Sunshine Coast’s history of South Sea Islanders. They first arrived as slaves more than 150 years ago, helping to establish the sugar industry. The route is set along an old cane rail track. The boardwalk itself is made from a fibre reinforced polymer, which won't rust or rot. Mesh decking allows 40% light penetration, so that plants can grow under and around the structure. The Bli Bli Boardwalk can be accessed from Whistler Street, Bli Bli. Source: New boardwalk honours history and spectacular natural surrounds (April 2021)

Edited Eucalyptus

In many parts of the world, Australian eucalypts are useful species that have also become troublesome weeds. An international collaboration has recently introduced sterility into a timber variety of Eucalyptus using CRISPR gene editing technology, the first time it has been successfully used for commercial forestry. This removes the weed potential of the tree, although laws against GMO crops would prevent use of this new strain from being planted in some places. Source: Research suggests eucalyptus trees can be genetically modified not to invade native ecosystems (April, 2021)

Footpath Positivity

Research in Perth has looked at the social and ecological potential of verge gardens with a focus on Australian native plants. Key findings include the inspirational role played by other verge gardens or similar landscapes in public places or online. Although not without challenges, verge gardening was generally a positive and rewarding experience for the participants surveyed and they would recommend it to others. The report, which includes photographs of many real-life verge gardens in Perth, is available from the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub: The-social-and-ecological-values-of-native-gardens-along-streets-1.pdf. (March 2021)

Zoocentrism Puts Plants In Danger

A recent survey of scientific assessments has shown bias toward animal species (especially mammals), suggesting that the proportion of endemic plants at risk is significantly underestimated. This was largely attributed to "zoocentrism" (humans' greater fondness and focus on animals compared to plants). Source: Aussie love for animals leaves plants at risk (March 2021)

A Natural End

In response to community demand for natural burials, Sunshine Coast Council is considering facilitating them within existing cemeteries and they may even be available by the end of 2021. Suitable locations would comprise bushland, or land being revegetated, with adjacent space for a communal memorial. Avoidance of toxic materials is another aspect of natural burial. Sustainable, non-toxic coffins can already be used in Sunshine Coast cemeteries. Source: The future of funerals in the spotlight (March 2021)

Some older news items of continuing interest have been moved to appropriate subject pages. Check the Guide to Pages or use the search function at the top of the page. Older news about the benefits to physical or mental health and society will be collected in a new page: Effect of gardens & gardening on human health. Items related to property value are at Landscaping & property values

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